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Home built low water sensor


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So i saw @ZiggyMarley asking about a home built low water sensor for their machine (lelit owners/potential owners thread) the only options out there were mega expensive so i went and built my own version based off a video i found on youtube and some smart home smarts

I bought one of these - https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07TWGP4JP/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

and some of these: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Three-Probe-Stainless-Steel-Probe-Sensor-for-Water-Liquid-Level-Controller/164377069727

using the guidance based off the video below i connected the probes to the sensor, i added the zigbee sensor to my smart home hub (samsung smartthings), tested and it worked, so now the two probes are dangling in my rancilio silvia water tank and the sensor itself is down under the water tank as i havent got any wire strippers to shorten the cable. 


When there is no water detected i.e the water is low as one sensor is higher than the other it will send my phone a notification to tell me to fill my machine up. Whilst the sensor stays wet it will just sit there idle.

 

Hope this helps someone and if anyone wants photos of my exact setup, im happy to provide 👍

 

 

Edited by spasypaddy
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Nice work. Those probes especially look useful. One thing worth mentioning is that a lot of zigbee moisture sensors are "sleepy" when dry, but not when wet, so you may find your batteries deplete fairly quickly. That's certainly the case for the samsung one I have that lets me know if my drip tray is leaking.

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28 minutes ago, jymbob said:

Nice work. Those probes especially look useful. One thing worth mentioning is that a lot of zigbee moisture sensors are "sleepy" when dry, but not when wet, so you may find your batteries deplete fairly quickly. That's certainly the case for the samsung one I have that lets me know if my drip tray is leaking.

something i had considered and will be keeping an eye on, and would make sense

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the sensor is currently £20 and the cables £6.50

i bought the sensor with a 20% off code and the cables for £5 so all in it was about £20.

i already have an extensive smart home so it just connected into the zigbee hub i already have. Im sure there will be a wifi version of the sensor somewhere which would allow the same functionality and would connect straight into your router if that was necessary.

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that is brilliant

my crude solution, is a £3 piece of acrylic mirror so I can peer into the tank

 

20201020_105458.jpg

 

my real issue is knowing when the tank is full.  The Elizabeth tell me when she wants a drink.

Edited by ZiggyMarley
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1 hour ago, mikeF said:

This does seem quite over complicated in my opinion. what does it all connect to, a pump? why couldn't it connect to mains cold water supply through a solenoid?

 

over complicated?? its two items to purchase and 30seconds to put together. you should see the set up i've installed to control my non-smart dyson fan.

and yes if i had it plumbed in or a pump that could refill it i would have had it set up to refill automatically. instead i know to just not pull a shot and to refill which is important.

 

@ZiggyMarley so you could use this to do max fill. I'd have one cabled sensor at the bottom of the water tank and one taped to the side at the max fill line, then when you get to the max fill line you'd get an alert on your phone/amazon alexa/google home device telling you your tank is full. Its pretty instantaneous. 

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@ZiggyMarley so you could use this to do max fill. I'd have one cabled sensor at the bottom of the water tank and one taped to the side at the max fill line, then when you get to the max fill line you'd get an alert on your phone/amazon alexa/google home device telling you your tank is full. Its pretty instantaneous. 

 

I do like to see the creativity in people in coming up with helpful things. To me, however, there’s a flaw. Not with the design, but the “what if”. At the back of my mind, I’d always be thinking...

 

What if the device lost connectivity?

What if the internet service is down?

What if the router is down?

What if there’s a delay?

 

Great idea, but, for me, I won’t trust it.

 

Ps @ZiggyMarley: that metal support to elevate espresso cups sitting on top of your machine... the bottom of it is quite sharp and rough. I store mine upside down, so there’s no risk to scratch the top of the machine.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Current: Lelit Elizabeth / Niche Zero / VST baskets / Distilled water + 100mg NaCO3/L

Previous: Gaggia Classic | Eureka Mignon | Rocket Cellini Evo | Profitec 700 | Profitec T-64 | Gene Cafe CBR-101 | Kinu M68 | Feldgrind 2 | La Pavoni Europiccola 2012

Also at: CoffeeTime Forum & Niche Zero Owners Group

 

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14 minutes ago, MediumRoastSteam said:

What if the device lost connectivity?

What if the internet service is down?

What if the router is down?

What if there’s a delay?

Connectivity - its something i am worried about because of some of the reliability of these sensors isnt great however 2 days in its rock solid so my fear over that is going down.

This device doesnt rely on internet thankfully, its all connected locally but again i hear you. and ive just replaced my router so that should cover that fear.

There is no delay, thats been tested quite a fair bit, in fact i was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it reacted.

i should also add, im incredibly trusting of tech and my smart home hasn't let me down yet. so i am adding more and more bits but i do hear you with the whatif.


When i installed it in my water tank i actually installed one sensor much higher than what would count as low water and ruin my machine. so theres a safety mechanism built in there that its a very early warning system.

 

so if i was using it as a max fill sensor i would look at what i filled the tank with (jug/bottle etc) and work out what point one more of said receptacle was and have the sensor on the side of the tank at that point and change the warning from 'tank full' to ' just one more jug of water' or something. 

 

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What if the machine is plumbed in and there's an issue with the mains water supply?

Not really a serious question, but given this has actually happened to me more than once, I think it serves as a demonstration that anything that can go wrong will eventually go wrong.

A good amount of home automation now works without an internet connection. My leak sensor will switch off my machine as long as there's power in the house, and if there isn't, it's already off!

It's important to remember that most people are after improvements to convenience rather than a foolproof robot powered system with no manual control. If this reduces the likelihood of trying to run with a dry tank and is easier than poking your head over the reservoir every shot, it's useful even if it's not foolproof.

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7 hours ago, MediumRoastSteam said:

Ps @ZiggyMarley: that metal support to elevate espresso cups sitting on top of your machine... the bottom of it is quite sharp and rough. I store mine upside down, so there’s no risk to scratch the top of the machine.

I have a silicon mat cut to size to prevent such scratches 

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22 hours ago, spasypaddy said:

over complicated?? its two items to purchase and 30seconds to put together. you should see the set up i've installed to control my non-smart dyson fan.

 

sorry don't want it to sound like i'm having a go or criticizing, if it works for you then great. Would I be right in saying you are mainly interested in the alarm part rather than automatically refilling, incase you run it dry? what happens when you run it dry by the way? my machine just cuts off when the water is low, so the main thing I want is it to fill automatically because I have limited worktop space and want the machine shoved right into the corner out of the way, but when I do this it's a pain to get the tank off to refill it. I think I'll be looking at some sort of low water sensor that just automatically opens a solenoid and fills the tank. have you connected it to mains water to refill the tank?

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On 27/10/2020 at 09:58, spasypaddy said:

, so now the two probes are dangling in my rancilio silvia

 

3 minutes ago, mikeF said:

what happens when you run it dry by the way? my machine just cuts off when the water is low

The Rancilio Silvia - the OP’s machine - does not have an alarm or low water safety stop. When the Silvia runs dry, you can tell by the pump making a funny noise and, when it runs completely dry it makes a very loud noise as the pump starts to suck air. 

Current: Lelit Elizabeth / Niche Zero / VST baskets / Distilled water + 100mg NaCO3/L

Previous: Gaggia Classic | Eureka Mignon | Rocket Cellini Evo | Profitec 700 | Profitec T-64 | Gene Cafe CBR-101 | Kinu M68 | Feldgrind 2 | La Pavoni Europiccola 2012

Also at: CoffeeTime Forum & Niche Zero Owners Group

 

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48 minutes ago, mikeF said:

sorry don't want it to sound like i'm having a go or criticizing, if it works for you then great. Would I be right in saying you are mainly interested in the alarm part rather than automatically refilling, incase you run it dry? what happens when you run it dry by the way? my machine just cuts off when the water is low, so the main thing I want is it to fill automatically because I have limited worktop space and want the machine shoved right into the corner out of the way, but when I do this it's a pain to get the tank off to refill it. I think I'll be looking at some sort of low water sensor that just automatically opens a solenoid and fills the tank. have you connected it to mains water to refill the tank?

no, my machine is mega basic (rancilio silvia) no low water warning. When its low it just keeps going making a dreadful noise which im sure isnt healthy! so i try to avoid that by filling regularly, now i know when i need to fill.

To refill automatically wouldnt be too hard if you had a device that could be controlled by a smart device, so if the pump just switched on and off at the mains then you could easily get this to trigger a command to start the pump and have a secondary version that controlled the top of the fill and when that reacted and went wet you would get it to turn the pump off.

something like this and it would just keep the main bit in the middle filled and would reduce the risk of it overfilling as well as running low:

https://pasteboard.co/JxRQ3C3.png 

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Surely there is no need for a fancy digitally controlled (or whatever) set up. The machine will run out of water WHEN YOU ARE NEXT TO IT, USING IT!! A simple low water sensor in the tank at the correct level attached to some kind of alarm, light or sound - maybe even both, will let you know it needs refilling. If you're feeling adventurous you could get an alarm with a high water sensor too to make sure it doesn't overflow as you refill it. Simple, job done!

Aquarium low/high water alarms exist and are inexpensive. 

Obviously you can't check if your machine has run out of water from the other side of the planet, oh wait a minute it won't have as you're not using it!

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16 minutes ago, spasypaddy said:

yawn.

so it doesnt suit you, thats nice.

Just pointing out having a water sensor, that will operate when you're using the machine and therefore stood next to it, does not need linking to your phone via some sort of wi-fi, hub or whatever.

Sorry you didn't appreciate the simple solution.

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19 minutes ago, DDoe said:

Just pointing out having a water sensor, that will operate when you're using the machine and therefore stood next to it, does not need linking to your phone via some sort of wi-fi, hub or whatever.

Sorry you didn't appreciate the simple solution.

it operates all the time thank you and in my eyes is incredibly simple. 

and im now going to go drink some instant coffee as thats much simpler to make than espresso.

 

sorry for bringing a small home diy project to the forum. Admins can you please delete this thread as DDoe has decided it isnt suitable and instead should keep my ideas that may help others who are interested away from the public view

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is this simple enough? here's my solution:

I have a cheap ball valve fitted in the tank, and it's connected to the mains water under my kitchen sink. as an insurance policy against ball valve failing or a pipe leaking I have connected it to a solenoid so it only fills for 1 minute, twice a day once in the morning and once in the evening. thats enough to satisfy my coffee needs but that part can be adjusted by the timer, really you want to to be switched on as little as possible to reduce the chance of a leak. I've put an in line filter in there too which helps

pictures:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/kkCjXy4aWfREnmFk7

https://photos.app.goo.gl/UzurCPvSjV1XkjL16

https://photos.app.goo.gl/CM1tDiUPiQph92H49

https://photos.app.goo.gl/uPUKWSUfjcUDNHjW6

https://photos.app.goo.gl/Sd8Ux8mvpMPQ2Ebt9

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1 hour ago, fenwick458 said:

is this simple enough? here's my solution:

I have a cheap ball valve fitted in the tank, and it's connected to the mains water under my kitchen sink. as an insurance policy against ball valve failing or a pipe leaking I have connected it to a solenoid so it only fills for 1 minute, twice a day once in the morning and once in the evening. thats enough to satisfy my coffee needs but that part can be adjusted by the timer, really you want to to be switched on as little as possible to reduce the chance of a leak. I've put an in line filter in there too which helps

pictures:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/kkCjXy4aWfREnmFk7

https://photos.app.goo.gl/UzurCPvSjV1XkjL16

https://photos.app.goo.gl/CM1tDiUPiQph92H49

https://photos.app.goo.gl/uPUKWSUfjcUDNHjW6

https://photos.app.goo.gl/Sd8Ux8mvpMPQ2Ebt9

Seems to me this is a set up worth having if you're really happy with your machine and don't mind hacking it about a bit. Automatic refill from the mains, what's not to like.

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1 hour ago, fenwick458 said:

is this simple enough? here's my solution:

I have a cheap ball valve fitted in the tank, and it's connected to the mains water under my kitchen sink. as an insurance policy against ball valve failing or a pipe leaking I have connected it to a solenoid so it only fills for 1 minute, twice a day once in the morning and once in the evening. thats enough to satisfy my coffee needs but that part can be adjusted by the timer, really you want to to be switched on as little as possible to reduce the chance of a leak. I've put an in line filter in there too which helps

pictures:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/kkCjXy4aWfREnmFk7

https://photos.app.goo.gl/UzurCPvSjV1XkjL16

https://photos.app.goo.gl/CM1tDiUPiQph92H49

https://photos.app.goo.gl/uPUKWSUfjcUDNHjW6

https://photos.app.goo.gl/Sd8Ux8mvpMPQ2Ebt9

no, ideas and help to others is not allowed on this forum.

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9 minutes ago, spasypaddy said:

no, ideas and help to others is not allowed on this forum.

No problem with passing on ideas just no need to get too upset if someone thinks differently to you. No doubt you probably think my aquarium sensor solution is rubbish. Different solutions for different people.

Edited by DDoe
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20 hours ago, fenwick458 said:

is this simple enough? here's my solution:

I have a cheap ball valve fitted in the tank, and it's connected to the mains water under my kitchen sink. as an insurance policy against ball valve failing or a pipe leaking I have connected it to a solenoid so it only fills for 1 minute, twice a day once in the morning and once in the evening. thats enough to satisfy my coffee needs but that part can be adjusted by the timer, really you want to to be switched on as little as possible to reduce the chance of a leak. I've put an in line filter in there too which helps

 

that looks simple enough, I think I'll try it out thanks

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